The Pacific ACP Trade and Fisheries officials’ meeting concludes today in Suva and participants are expected to finalise their Economic Participation Agreement (EPA) recommendations to be forwarded to a meeting of regional trade ministers which starts tomorrow.
PACP Trade and Fisheries officials chairperson and Fiji’s Trade Ministry Permanent Secretary Shaheen Ali says they have had useful discussions over the past two days in which member countries raised their concerns and possible options that could be taken ahead of EPA negotiations with the European Union.
According to Ali, fisheries and development cooperation were the two most important issues that were brought up during discussions.
“Now this is very important because we’ve always been saying that the EPA needs to be a development agreement, so for that in the comprehensive EPA, there needs to be a development cooperation chapter, a meaningful development cooperation chapter that provides resources for the PACPs,” he said.
“We are now working on implementing an agreement, because we do need capacities in terms of our agencies such as customs, bio-security, and fisheries.
“We need competent authorities there to comply with the SPS (Sanitary and Phytosanitary) quarantine requirements, the bio-security requirements of EU and also development assistance and cooperation in terms of helping countries trade under EPA, building our supply capacity, and giving encouragement to our industries, and support to our infant industries in terms of our financing options and investments.
“Those issues are important and that’s why a well-negotiated development chapter is critical in a comprehensive EPA.
” Over the last two days of talks, officials also discussed how far they had gone with stock taking exercise, the regional negotiating machinery as well as good and contentious issues relating to each country’s economy.